So, my position as staff photographer for Merrimack Hall Performing Arts Center recently afforded me a unique opportunity. Billy Bob Thornton and his band, The Boxmasters, were coming for their third visit to Merrimack to play a fundraiser concert for the non-profit, and as staff photographer I would be tasked with shooting the show. Now, the last time a big name group came through town I went out and rented a big lens and got myself all excited only to have them tell us at the last minute that only their photographer could shoot them and no one else - :( Luckily I turned that weekend into a golden opportunity and made my rental money back, but that's another story - see pic in the park
Having that past experience, when I heard that The Boxmasters were coming, my expectations of shooting them were not high, especially when I found out I could only shoot the first 5 minutes of their set and was denied my request to rent a long lens for the event as I wouldn't be shooting much of it. As the first day went by, however, I found the band and their crew to be very approachable, down to earth, people. Truly nice guys, laid back and genuine. I was suddenly struck with the idea that they may not mind me crouching down center stage to make some use of my mid-range lens and perhaps get one or two good shots. Thankfully, I was able to attain permission from their tour manager, Tom Mayhue, and took my position to shoot the first night.
I was really excited to see that they were lighting the band with two spotlights, located on either side of the back of at the theater, giving the band a nice even light on their faces. Using my D700 I was able to bump my ISO up to about 1600 without too much noise, which allowed me to get a relatively fast shutter speed without having to go too low on my aperture.
After the show I snapped some shots while the guys signed autographs. Again I was fortunate that the room had white ceilings that were low enough for me to bounce my flash off of. I combined a low, rear synced flash with a slow shutter to bring in the ambient light of the room while still lighting their faces.
Following the show I quickly chose a shot to post on instagram. I pulled the following image up on the back of my camera and took a picture of it with my phone to post online.
Billy and Tom ended up liking the shot so much that I was given permission to shoot the entire show the next evening! Here are some of my favorite shots:
If that wasn't all cool enough, Billy also took time out of his busy schedule to sit in on Merrimack's Creative Writing class for teens with special needs. For these shots I was able to just use natural light and a slightly higher ISO, yay for big windows and sunshine! To achieve the aperture that I needed for the group shot I raised a strobe up close to the white ceiling and bounced the light off of it for an even flood of light on everyone.
A HUGE shout out to The Boxmasters and the amazing team of people that work alongside them! I thoroughly enjoyed meeting each and every one of you and look forward to working with everyone again soon.